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Old 18 Oct 2010
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Western Pakistan: escorts; restrictions; road conditions


Arriving in PK at 2:30-ish I was told I would be staying at the border (Taftan) that night. There would be no escort that day. The PTDC Motel was shut (not clear if it was a permanent thing) so I was put up in some disused offices. They did cook me dinner which was nice.

Day 1: Taftan-Dalbandin: the first escort ran out of diesel after 20km and sent me on unescorted. The second had no vehicle and comandeered the doctor' car. The next three had no vehicles and after initially resisting I accepted that the only way I'd be moving forward was to have an armed pillion (increasingly grey and frail men). At 2-ish in Dalbandin I was told I'd be going no further that day. The Al Dawood hotel (the only hotel?) is fine. The people are nice.

Day 2: Dalbandin-Quetta: the road becomes quite poor although it is mostly metalled. I had one armed pillion for about 115km where I was sent on alone on quite a good surface to Nushki where I required an escort up the twisty bits of the mountain road (10km) and was let loose again for 100km until just after the Lak Pass when escorts had to be found to take me into Quetta. 8.5hrs for 330km.

At Quetta I was told that: foreigners cannot take the Dera Ismail Khan road (it goes through the NWFP). There was an undated police edict saying explicitly that foreigners could not travel the Dera Ghazi Khan road and must travel the Sukkur road. At the time of writing the Sukkur road was impassible for low vehicles at Temple Dera as it's under 4ft of water (too much for the XT). I was told I could apply for special permission to travel the DGK road from the home office on Monday (this was Friday evening). I chose the "dangerous" road south to Karachi -- more for something to do to be honest.

Day 3: Quetta-Khuzdar: the first 40-odd km of the N25 from the Lak Pass are dusty hard-core varying from four to one-lane wide. It is busy (with NATO supply lines too!) and slow and I was head to toe in dust in half an hour. In the end I had 16 escorts as far as Kalat and then I was free to go the remainder to Khuzdar. I arrived at 4-ish and checked into the grotty PTDC. The people were nice, mind!

Note that yesterday a NATO tanker was torched at Mangchur (just north of Kalat) so the view on the danger of this road may have changed).

Khuzdar-Karachi: at the south of Khuzdar I was stopped and told I needed an escort on this dangerous road. I was put on the phone to some bloke who said he was worried about me riding my bike alone to which I said I'd been doing alright so far. A minute later I was told I could go on ahead unescorted. A couple of escorts were thrown in along the road but mostly unescorted until north of Hub where I had about three to south of Hub and was let loose again. The road through Hub is poor and if, like me, you miss the unmarked expressway at the half-built roundabout (it's the second exit that looks like it heads into the city) you get to ride a parallel but terrible road all the way into the city.

As it happens there's been 40 people killed in Karachi in the last 48hrs including one in Lea market which I rode through (none the wiser, obviously) with no signs of violence or police. YMMV.

Several of the escorts force you to ride behind at 40kph. Motorcycle escorts are limited to 60kph. Several of the escorts started dropping behind at 75kph. Several of my potential escorts saw me coming towards them, screeched to a halt, turned round and despite the fact I generously slowed to 60kph never managed to catch up.

I'm not a security expert but much like Iran (see other posting) it's questionable if they're offering you any security (you're either not being escorted or you're becoming a slower more obvious target to any potshot-guy).


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Old 18 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by idf000 View Post

I'm not a security expert but much like Iran (see other posting) it's questionable if they're offering you any security (you're either not being escorted or you're becoming a slower more obvious target to any potshot-guy).

Not to mention that they tend to draw even more attention to you and the fact that you're going slower and are in Balochistan for even longer would suggest and increased risk...

What was your experience with Iranian escorts, did they 'confiscate' your passport as the did with us?
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Old 19 Oct 2010
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we are currently in Yazd, Iran. Our plan is to travel through Pakistan to India. But what we read in above post makes us think. We do not want to go to Karachi, because it is not safe beside the roads are bad and we are heavy loaded as we are two on the bike.
Anybody has any information when the Sukkur road will be passable again for motorbikes? Is anybody else in Pakistan right now having some information on situation and safety?
We don't want to get into trouble and if situation is not too good, we will think of some alternative way.

Zoran and Tamara
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Old 19 Oct 2010
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Don't forget if you get fed up riding at the escorts pace, you can loose them as I did and although there were generally others waiting up ahead, quite often I didn't have an escort at all which although was good in terms of getting somewhere quicker, I was a little nervy in some areas, particularly in Derra Ismail Khan where no one wanted to give me a room as I was considered a security risk. Once the police got involved and I finally got a room (more expensive than I wanted) I was warned to only eat in my room and not to venture into the market for my safety. They were very serious about this.

If you have a look at my video, there's a bit where I'm picked up by the cops in Derra Ghazi Khan (@ 2.48) and given a very slow escort from there. BTW I was heading west to Iran. My escorts stopped at Kingri (N70) and had no more till I got into Iran but I think its pot luck how much escort you will get.

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Old 21 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by TurboCharger View Post
are in Balochistan for even longer would suggest and increased risk...

What was your experience with Iranian escorts, did they 'confiscate' your passport as the did with us?

The Balochis seemed quite friendly to me, despite reports that foreigners are potential targets.

Re: passports. West of Bam my passport was checked repeatedly but not confiscated. East of BAM it was confiscated and I had to periodically refuse to move again until I'd seen my passport if it had disappeared with a policeman into a building. They did understand my position.

In Pakistan my passport was checked repeatedly but never confiscated.

As MikeS notes you can trivially outrun the PK escorts if you are of a mind to. Their ancient trucks (or brand new ones they don't want to damage) are unable to cope at any speed with rough roads and can barely go uphill at all. I lost several of my escorts on hill sections because, despite slowing to a crawl (40-50kph), I would start to daydream and my speed would creep up. I'd look back and they'd have disappeared never to reappear. I would then pass the next one in the other direction which would come skidding to a halt and by the time it'd had turned around and I'd slowed to 60kph, say, it never caught up again.

On top of that I was regularly let loose to travel 10s or 100km without an escort. No obvious reason why the change from escorted to unescorted.

I had the impression that the job of escorting foreigners is as much a chore to them as it is to us.

Having been down to Karachi (yes, there is a lot of violence but it's not where the (decent?) hotels are -- though I did note I rode through both Lea Market and Malir where much of the violence has been but I didn't see anything) and now back up to Lahore most of the roads in Pakistan are poor though the northern end of the Quetta-Karachi road is the worst.

There have been more attacks on NATO fuel tankers in the meanwhile too in the Kalat area. I never saw anything resembling an attack on a NATO supply truck. YMMV.

I tried to stay in Sukkur last night but the hotels were full, I tried four. There was a UNHCR do at the one good hotel which may well have had knock-on effects and filled the rest of the system. I ended up riding three hours after sunset to get to Bahawalpur. Not a great experience. Maybe I should have asked to camp at the one hotel.

There's no flooding at Sukkur any more and I can't comment on the rest of the road to Quetta.


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Old 8 Nov 2010
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Looks good Ian. I'm had heard that Pakistan was pretty much a no go with all the flooding. I'm looking at riding through from Singapore soonish. Any advise you can give (I watch you video and see that you started singapore too) would be very helpful.
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